The Paradoxical Invocation of Humanity
This week, Republican Congressman Terry Franks invoked humanist philosophy to simultaneously defend pro-life (anti-abortion) and question President Obama’s humanity and citizenship. It would be laughable logic if this trend were not so prevalent and effective. Franks called Obama an “enemy of humanity” referring to Obama’s decision to support international aid to organizations that perform abortions. This invocation of humanist arguments in every abortion debate is particularly interesting when it is juxtaposed against almost uniform rejection by Republicans of public insurance options and sex education in schools. Franks in particular accuses Obama of not treating unborn babies as humans and therefore is himself less than human. In the same breath that he attempts to color Obama as an inhumane monster, Franks also questions Obama’s citizenship status. Is he making a connection between humanity and American citizenship? Is it only “human” to protect unborn babies while supporting efforts to exclude thousands of children and pregnant women from access to healthcare? Though politically problematic, the most distressing aspect of these kinds of accusations stem from the slippery links made between and among such issues. Further, rather than engaging in political dialogue and debate regarding these issues, Franks (like many other politicians) critique not the positions and arguments but rather the very humanity of the person with whom he disagrees.
CNN article on Terry Franks